Darren McGavin (born William Lyle Richardson; May 7, 1922 – February 25, 2006) was an American film, stage, and television actor best known for his portrayal of the grumpy but loving father in the film A Christmas Story, and for the title role in the television horror series Kolchak: The Night Stalker.
McGavin's other film roles include Eddie Yaeger in David Lean's Summertime, "Nifty Louie" in The Man with the Golden Arm (both 1955), Stan Buckek in Airport '77 (1977), Harry Shannon in Raw Deal (1986), General Fleming in Captain America (1990), and Brian Madison in Billy Madison (1995).
McGavin began his career in walk-on roles and later onstage, appearing in Broadway productions in 1953, and later played the title character in the 1950s television series Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer. From 1959–1961, McGavin starred in the NBC Western series Riverboat, first with Burt Reynolds and then with Noah Beery Jr., and in later years, he had a recurring role in the sitcom Murphy Brown, as the title character's father, for which he received an Emmy Award.
McGavin in Riverboat, 1960
|Born||William Lyle Richardson
May 7, 1922
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Died||February 25, 2006 (aged 83)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Cardiovascular disease|
|Resting place||Hollywood Forever Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Anita Williams (m. 1942–1943)
Melanie York (m. 1944–1969)
Kathie Browne (m. 1969–2003)
William Lyle Richardson was born in Spokane, Washington, the son of Reed D. Richardson and his wife Grace (Bogart) Watson. According to McGavin, his childhood was turbulent. He ran away from home at age eleven, and lived in abandoned warehouses in Tacoma during his teenage years.
When an opening became available for a bit part in A Song to Remember, McGavin applied and won his first movie role. Shortly afterwards, he moved to New York City and studied at the Neighborhood Playhouse and the Actors Studio under teacher Sanford Meisner. He began working in live TV and on Broadway, including The Rainmaker (where he created the title role), The King and I, and Death of a Salesman.
McGavin returned to Hollywood and became busy in a wide variety of TV and movie roles. In 1955, he appeared in the short film A Word to the Wives with Marsha Hunt, and with roles in the feature films Summertime and The Man with the Golden Arm.
During this period, McGavin also appeared twice in the anthology series Alfred Hitchcock Presents, first in an episode titled "Triggers in Leash" and later in an episode titled "The Cheney Vase," as a scheming caretaker and aspiring art thief, opposite Carolyn Jones, Patricia Collinge, and Ruta Lee. He also later appeared in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour titled "A Matter of Murder".
Over the course of his career, McGavin starred in seven different TV series and guest-starred in many more; these television roles increased in the late 1950s and early 1960s with leading parts in series such as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer and Riverboat. He also guest-starred in an episode of Gunsmoke.
When Martin and Lewis broke up, McGavin played the role originally earmarked for Dean Martin in The Delicate Delinquent, Jerry Lewis's first solo film. McGavin was also known for his role as Sam Parkhill in the miniseries adaptation of The Martian Chronicles. He appeared as a fill-in regular in The Name of the Game in an episode entitled "Goodbye Harry" and was featured as a reporter in one of the Gene Barry segments.
The first of his two best-known roles came in 1972, in the supernatural-themed TV movie The Night Stalker (1972). With McGavin playing a reporter who discovers the activities of a modern-day vampire on the loose in Las Vegas, the film became the highest-rated made-for-TV movie in history at that time; when the sequel The Night Strangler (1973) was also a strong success, a subsequent television series Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974) was made. In the series, McGavin played Carl Kolchak, an investigative reporter for the INS, a Chicago-based news service, who regularly stumbles upon the supernatural or occult basis for a seemingly mundane crime; although his involvement routinely assisted in the dispelment of the otherworldly adversary, his evidence in the case was always destroyed or seized, usually by a public official or major social figure who sought to cover up the incident. He would write his ensuing stories in a sensational, tabloid style which advised readers that the true story was being withheld from them. McGavin reportedly entered into a verbal agreement with Sid Sheinberg (President of MCA and Universal TV) to produce The Night Stalker as a TV series as a coproduction between Universal and McGavin's Taurean Productions. Early promises were never fulfilled, and McGavin expressed concern over script quality and lack of network commitment toward promoting the show. His concerns appeared justified, as the series drifted into camp humor and the production values declined in later episodes.
McGavin was asked to play the role of Arthur Dales, founder of the X-Files, in three episodes: season 5's "Travelers" and two episodes from season 6, "Agua Mala" and "The Unnatural". Failing health forced him to withdraw from the latter, and the script (written and directed by series star David Duchovny) was rewritten to feature M. Emmet Walsh as Dales's brother, also called Arthur.
In 1983, he starred as "Old Man Parker", the narrator's father, in the movie A Christmas Story. He portrayed a middle class father in 1940's Hammond, Indiana, who was endearing in spite of his being comically oblivious to his own use of profanity and completely unable to recognize his unfortunate taste for kitsch. Blissfully unaware of his family's embarrassment by his behavior, he took pride in his self-assessed ability to fix anything in record time, and carried on a tireless campaign against his neighbor's rampaging bloodhounds. McGavin allegedly received a fee of $2 million to play the role, making him one of the highest-paid actors of the time.
McGavin made an uncredited appearance in 1984's The Natural as a shady gambler, and appeared on a Christmas episode ("Midnight of the Century") of Millennium, playing the long-estranged father of Frank Black (Lance Henriksen); he also appeared as Adam Sandler's character's hotel-magnate father in the 1995 movie Billy Madison.
In 1986 he took a part in John Irvin's Raw Deal, alongside then rising star Arnold Schwarzenegger; McGavin plays a long time FBI officer who enlists former colleague Schwarzie to help him unmask a mole within the Bureau working for a Chicago mob family.
A brief and unsuccessful remake of the Night Stalker TV series in 2005 starred Stuart Townsend. In the initial episode aired on September 29, 2005, McGavin appeared momentarily in the background, using digitally inserted footage from his role in the original series.
McGavin narrated the majority of the audio book versions of the adventure novels by John D. MacDonald in which each title included a color. The central character and main voice of the novels was by Travis McGee.
McGavin was married three times. He first married Anita Marie Williams in 1942. He later married Melanie York on March 20, 1944; their marriage ended in divorce in 1969, but produced four children: Bogart, York, Megan, and Bridget McGavin. The third was to Kathie Browne on December 31, 1969, ending with her death in 2003.
|1945||A Song to Remember||Student||Uncredited|
|1945||Kiss and Tell||Tech Sergeant||Uncredited|
|1946||She Wouldn't Say Yes||The Kid||Uncredited|
|1951||Queen for a Day||Dan|
|1951||Distant Drums||Navy Lieutenant||Uncredited|
|1955||A Word to the Wives...||George Peters|
|1955||The Man with the Golden Arm||Louie|
|1955||The Court Martial of Billy Mitchell||Capt. Russ Peters|
|1957||Beau James||Charley Hand|
|1957||The Delicate Delinquent||Mike Damon|
|1958||The Case Against Brooklyn||Pete Harris|
|1964||Bullet for a Badman||Sam Ward|
|1965||The Great Sioux Massacre||Captain Benton|
|1965||African Gold||Mike Gregory|
|1968||Mission Mars||Col. Mike Blaiswick|
|1973||43: The Richard Petty Story||Lee Petty|
|1973||Happy Mother's Day, Love George||George Perry||Uncredited
|1974||Hay que matar a B.||Pal Kovak|
|1976||No Deposit, No Return||Duke|
|1977||Airport '77||Stan Buchek|
|1978||Zero to Sixty||Michael Nolan|
|1978||Hot Lead and Cold Feet||Mayor Ragsdale|
|1980||Hangar 18||Harry Forbes|
|1981||Firebird 2015 AD||Red|
|1983||A Christmas Story||Old Man Parker|
|1984||The Natural||Gus Sands||Uncredited|
|1985||Turk 182||Detective Kowalski|
|1986||Raw Deal||Harry Shannon|
|1987||From the Hip||Craig Duncan|
|1988||Dead Heat||Dr. Ernest McNab|
|1989||In the Name of Blood||Fergus Redding|
|1990||Captain America||General Fleming|
|1991||Blood and Concrete||Hank Dick|
|1992||Happy Hell Night||Henry Collins|
|1995||Billy Madison||Brian Madison|
|1999||Pros and Cons||Mr. Stanford|
|2008||Still Waters Burn||Paddy||Filmed in 1996, (final film role)|
|1951-1952||Casey, Crime Photographer||Casey||47 episodes|
|1951-1958||Westinghouse Studio One||Four episodes|
|1952||Tales of Tomorrow||Bruce Calvin||Episode: "The Duplicates"|
|1952||The Web||Episode: "Turn Back"|
|1952-1956||Armstrong Circle Theater||Three episodes|
|1952||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Two episodes|
|1953||Short Short Dramas||Fred Diamond||Episode: "The Double Cross"|
|1953||The Revlon Mirror Theater||Episode: "The Enormous Rasio"|
|1953||The Philco Television Playhouse||Episode: "The Rainmaker"|
|1954||Janet Dean, Registered Nurse||Tony Burito||Two episodes|
|1954||The Campbell Playhouse||Episode: "XXXXX Isn't Everything"|
|1954||Mama||Episode: "Mama and the Magician"|
|1954||The Telltale Clue||Harry Williams||Episode: "The Case of the Talking Garden"|
|1955||Pond's Theater||Two episodes|
|1955||It's Always Jan||Episode: "Joe"|
|1955||Producers' Showcase||Soldier||Episode: "Dateline II"|
|1955||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Two episodes|
|1955||Matinee Theatre||Episode: "The Shining Palace"|
|1956||Climax!||Walter||Episode: "Night of the Heat Wave"|
|1956||Robert Montgomery Presents||Joe Gillis||Episode: "Sunset Boulevard"|
|1956-1957||The Alcoa Hour||Two episodes|
|1958-1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Mike Hammer||78 episodes|
|1958||Decision||Dan Garrett||Episode: "Man Against Crime"|
|1959||Buckskin||"Annie's Old Beau"
|1959-1961||Riverboat||Captain Grey Holden||42 episodes
Directed episode "The Blowup"
|1961||The Islanders||Phil||Episode: "Island Witness"|
|1961||Death Valley Days||Zacharias Gurney||Episode: "The Stolen City"
Directed episode "Queen of Spades"
|1961||Stagecoach West||Pierce Martin||Episode: "A Place of Still Waters"|
|1961||Route 66||Johnny Copa||Episode: "The Opponent"|
|1961||Rawhide||Jeff Hadley||Episode: "The Sendoff"|
|1962||The United States Steel Hour||Episode: "Marriage Marks the Spot"|
|1963||Playdate||Charles Morrow||Episode: "The Day the Money Stopped"|
|1963-1964||The Defenders||Two episodes|
|1964||The Alfred Hitchcock Hour||Sheridan Westcott||Episode: "A Matter of Murder"|
|1964||The Nurses||Fitz Condon||Episode: "Hildie"|
|1964||Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Two episodes|
|1964||Ben Casey||Greene||Episode: "Kill the Dream, but Spare the Dreamer"|
|1964||The Rogues||Amos Champion||Episode: "The Diamond-Studded Pie"|
|1964-1967||The Virginian||Two episodes|
|1965||Dr. Kildare||Prof. Felix Holman||Four episodes|
|1966||Court Martial||Sgt. Joe Callaghan||Episode: "All Roads Lead to Callaghan"|
|1967||Cimarron Strip||Jud Starr||Episode: "The Legend of Jud Starr"|
|1967||The Man from U.N.C.L.E.||Victor Karmak||Episode: "The Deadly Quest Affair"|
|1967||Mission: Impossible||J. Richard Taggart||Episode: "The Seal"|
|1967||Custer||Jeb Powell||Episode: "Desperate Mission"|
|1968-1969||The Outsider||David Ross||28 episodes|
|1968-1970||The Name of the Game||Three episodes|
|1968||Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color||Barney B. Duncan||Two episodes|
|1970||The Challenge||Jacob Gallery||TV movie|
|1970||Love, American Style||Corbett||Episode: "Love and the Fly"|
|1970||Mannix||Mark||Episode: "A Ticket to the Eclipse"|
|1970||Berlin Affair||Pete Killian||TV movie|
|1970||Tribes||Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Drake||TV movie|
|1970||Bracken's World||Max Lassiter||Episode: "Infinity"|
|1970||Matt Lincoln||Episode: "Billy"|
|1970||The Forty-Eight Hour Mile||David Ross||TV movie|
|1971||Banyon||Lieutenant Pete Cordova||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1971||Cade's County||Courtney Vernon||Episode: "Homecoming"|
|1971||The Bold Ones: The Lawyers||Kevin Ireland||Episode: "The Invasion of Kevin Ireland"|
|1971||The Death of Me Yet||Joe Chalk||TV movie|
|1972||The Night Stalker||Carl Kolchak||TV movie|
|1972||Something Evil||Paul Worden||TV movie|
|1972||The Rookies||Sergeant Eddie Ryker||Episode: "Pilot"|
|1972||Here Comes the Judge||Judge||TV movie|
|1972||Say Goodbye, Maggie Cole||Dr. Lou Grazzo||TV movie|
|1972-1979||The Wonderful World of Disney||Five episodes|
|1973||The Night Strangler||Carl Kolchak||TV movie|
|1973||The Six Million Dollar Man||Oliver Spencer||Pilot movie|
|1973-1974||The Evil Touch||Three episodes
Also directed episode "A Game of Hearts"
|1974||Shaft||Capt. Brian Brewster||Episode: "Cop Killer"|
|1974||Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law||McClain||Episode: "A Stranger Among Us"|
|1974||Police Story||Matt Hallett||Episode: "The Ripper"|
|1974-1975||Kolchak: The Night Stalker||Carl Kolchak||20 episodes
Also executive producer
|1976||Brink's: The Great Robbery||James McNally||TV movie|
|1976||Law and Order||Deputy Chief Brian O'Malley||TV movie|
|1978||The Users||Henry Waller||TV movie|
|1978||Fantasy Island||Victor Duncan||"Episode: "Let the Goodtimes Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger"|
|1979||Not Until Today||Chief Jason Swan||TV movie|
|1979||Love for Rent||Coach John Martin||TV movie|
|1979||A Bond of Iron||William Weaver||TV movie|
|1980||Ike: The War Years||General George S. Patton||TV movie|
|1980||The Martian Chronicles||Sam Parkhill||Miniseries|
|1980||The Love Boat||Lawrence Evans||Two episodes|
|1981||Nero Wolfe||John Alan Bredeman||Episode: "Gambit"|
|1981||Magnum, P.I.||Buck Gibson||Episode: "Mad Buck Gibson"|
|1983||Tales of the Unexpected||Sheriff Milt Singleton||Episode: "Heir Presumptuous"|
|1983||Small & Frye||Nick Small||Six episodes|
|1984||The Return of Marcus Welby, M.D.||Dr. David Jennings||TV movie|
|1984||The Baron and the Kid||Jack Beamer||TV movie|
|1985||My Wicked, Wicked Ways: The Legend of Errol Flynn||Dr. Garrett Koets||TV movie|
|1985||The O'Briens||The Father||TV movie|
|1985||The Hitchhiker||Old Man||Episode: "Nightshift"|
|1985||Tales from the Darkside||Van Conway||Episode: "Distant Signals"|
|1986||Worlds Beyond||Harry Hewart||Episode: "Voice from the Gallows"|
|1987||CBS Summer Playhouse||Walter||Episode: "Day to Day"|
|1987||Tales from the Hollywood Hills: A Table at Ciro's||A.D. Nathan||TV movie|
|1988||Highway to Heaven||Hale Stoddard||Episode: "The Correspondent"|
|1988||Inherit the Wind||E.K. Hornbeck||TV movie|
|1988||The Diamond Trap||Walter Vadney||TV movie|
|1989||Around the World in 80 Days||Benjamin Mudge||Miniseries|
|1989||Monsters||Hubert||Episode: "Portrait of the Artist"|
|1989-1992||Murphy Brown||Bill Brown||Four episodes
Nominated- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series
|1990||By Dawn's Early Light||Condor||TV movie|
|1990||Child in the Night||Os Windfield||TV movie|
|1990||Kojak: It's Always Something||Wainright||TV movie|
|1990||Big||Mr. MacMillan||"pilot" for series based on 1988 film|
|1991||Perfect Harmony||Mr. Hobbs||TV movie|
|1992||Sibs||Episode: "If I Only Had a Dad"|
|1992||Civil Wars||Noah Caldecott||Episode: "Shop 'til You Drop"|
|1992||Murder, She Wrote||Martin Tremaine||Episode: "Angel of Death"|
|1992||Mastergate||Folsom Bunting||TV movie|
|1993||The American Clock||Old Arthur Huntington||TV movie|
|1994||A Perfect Stranger||John Henry Phillips||TV movie|
|1995||Sisters||Judge Harrison Bradford||Episode: "Judgement Day"|
|1995||Derby||Lester Corbett||TV movie|
|1995||Burke's Law||Conrad Hill||Episode: "Who Killed the King of the Country Club?"|
|1995||Gargoyles||Dominic Dracon/G.F. Benton (voice)||Episode: "The Silver Falcon"|
|1995||Fallen Angels||Old Man||Episode: "Fly Paper"|
|1995||The Commish||Terry Boyle||Two episodes|
|1996||Grace Under Fire||Grace's Dad||Episode: "Take Me to Your Breeder"|
|1997||Touched by an Angel||George Zarko||Episode: "Missing in Action"|
|1997||Millennium||Henry Black||Episode: "Midnight of the Century"|
|1998-1999||The X-Files||Arthur Dales||Two episodes|